The Rohingya: Humanitarian Crisis or Security Threat?

The Rohingya: Humanitarian Crisis or Security Threat?

This article is part of “Southeast Asia: Refugees in Crisis,” an ongoing series  by The Diplomat for summer and fall 2015 featuring exclusive articles from scholars and practitioners tackling Southeast Asia’s ongoing refugee crisis.All articles in the series can be found here.

To respond to the alarming rise of stranded persons in the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal, the Royal Thai Government organized the “Special Meeting on Irregular Migration in the Indian Ocean” on May 29, 2015 in Bangkok. The meeting was convened to address the continuing exodus of migrants and refugees from Myanmar. These refugees are mainly Rohingya, a Muslim minority group. They have been treated as “second-class” and”non citizens,” suffering from social discrimination, massive violent repression, human rights violations, and political exclusion. In addition to repressive policies by the central government, the Rohingya have also faced extremely anti-Muslim sentiments fanned partly by government-supported Buddhist fundamentalism in Myanmar.

The Southeast Asian and South Asian region has witnessed tremendous human movement – including hundreds of thousands refugees from Myanmar trying to enter neighboring countries illegally – especially Bangladesh. However, despite the increasingly dire humanitarian crisis, most of the potential host states are reluctant to accept more Rohingya refugees. One of the major reasons for this is an increasing trend in the region of viewing the Rohingya issue not solely as a humanitarian issue, but also a security and political one. As awareness has grown in both dimensions – humanitarian and security – there is a growing recognition among the international community of the need to do more than just ignoring the worsening situation of the Rohingya.

Historically, the Rohingya are predominantly Muslim and closely related to the Bengali people. Originally, many of them migrated from the Indian subcontinent towards the east into ‘Theravada Buddhist Myanmar,’ especially during the British colonial time. Relations between Muslims and Buddhists in Myanmar started deteriorating during the country’s liberation struggle. Relatively soon after gaining independence, the new rulers in Myanmar identified the Rohingya as economic refugees, a move that would be significant to the socio-economic composition and political power structure of the country. A policy of repression soon followed, which treated the Rohingya as illegal migrants subject to eviction.

The severity of the Rohingya migration issue can be understood as a clear result of three intermingling factors.  First is the emergence of authoritarian (military) regimes in Myanmar. Second is the consequence of a cultural confrontation between different ethnic-religious communities in Myanmar. This conflict gained significance after the military rulers attempted to assimilate religious-ethnic minorities into the mainstream Burmese culture. A strategy of an enforced cultural unification, namely Burmanization, was used as a way of “National Reconsolidation.” Third is the initial ignorance and inaction from policymakers worldwide despite the fact that the Rohingya issue was increasingly having international implications.

Today, it would seem that awareness of the Rohingya and their illegal migration is finally rising within the international community. In part, however, this new attention to the Rohingya issue stems from the tendency to identify Rohingya refugees as a “non-traditional security threat.”

In particular, there is a growing conviction among analysts that the massive influx of the Rohingyas during the last decades is creating a multidimensional security crisis. As stateless refugees, they have become the face of security threats as well as various forms of psycho-social and human security challenges in Myanmar and in their new host countries across the region like Bangladesh.

Most Rohingya who have migrated to other countries live in extraordinarily deplorable conditions. Living in forms of involuntarily and illegal self-settlement, they have to deal regularly with security forces, the unease and resistance of local communities, and restricted access to food, drinking water, sufficient shelter, and clothing. Partly as a result of these circumstances, they are often more easily targeted by criminal networks, illegal businesses, and Islamic fundamentalist groups like the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), or Harkat-ulJihad-al Islami (Huji).

This in turn leads illegal Rohingya migrants – particularly those living in illegal camps or unregistered as refugees – to be perceived as the cause of conflict. The movement of Rohingya refugees begins to be viewed through the prism of the rising challenge of controlling Islamic terrorism and political Islam in the region.

At the heart of this view is the following worry: the Rohingya problem is contributing to and is partly responsible for the rise of international jihadist movements. In more operational terms, there is the claim that the Rohingya are helping to support Islamic fundamentalism by acting as a (passive) recruiting base for Islamic militant extremists and through direct support for religious fundamentalism.

It is claimed that some radicalized sections of the refugees actively maintain links with banned Islamist groupings like JMB or Huji. Some radicalized Rohingya are accused of not only sympathizing with their fundamentalist worldview but also actively providing resources for these Islamist outfits, for example, providing training on arms and explosives. Additionally, there is the accusation that the Rohingya are using their international network to allocate funds from like-minded international organizations for militant groups operating in their host countries, especially in Bangladesh.

Rohingya have also been held responsible for the undermining of the general law and order situation in their host societies. Besides terrorism, extremist violence, and religious extremism, the Rohingya crisis is also seen as being associated with all kinds of criminal activities including narcotics, human trafficking, illegal trade in SALW (small arms and light weapons) and ammunition, stealing, armed robbery, and maritime piracy. Other major concerns are smuggling and illegal cross-border infiltrations.

Additionally, Rohingya have increasingly linked with growing rates of crimes related to extortion, sexual harassment (including prostitution and sexual slavery), killings for organs, domestic servitude, and forced labor by criminal networks in their host countries.

However, there is the tendency among authorities of host countries to ignore the fact that the Rohingya are mostly the victims and not the perpetrators in these scenarios. Rather, it seems that the general tendency up to this point has been to focus on the refugee crisis as the causal factor for the increase in security concerns.

Rohingya have also been identified by some host governments and local communities as a negative disturbance to local economies, especially when they are settling in underdeveloped regions. Some fear that the Rohingya constitute an additional demographic pressure on the already densely populated area with scarce resources. Others claim that the (mostly illegal) penetration of the refugees in regional job markets leads to further socio-economic inequalities and reduces employment opportunities for the local workforce.

Still others suggest that security measures are needed because the refugee crisis is causing instability, leading to a real reduction in trade and commerce, especially in the Bangladesh-Myanmar relations. In this context, Rohingya are also blamed by state authorities for delays in enhancing regional connectivity (infrastructure) and hampering the working relationship between Dhaka and Naypyidaw.

With bilateral talks between Malaysia and Indonesia and the earlier mentioned Bangkok conference on “irregular migrations”

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on May 29, as well as other steps, the international approach to the Rohingya is finally moving from ignorance to action. But it would be naïve to think this trajectory is only due to the humanitarian crisis of the refugees. Rather, the negative impacts of illegal migration – particularly on the security side – have finally convinced the international community to act, even though this may be based on unfounded fears.

Given this, what is most important is to preserve the political will and to strengthen the decision-making procedures in order to work towards a coherent and comprehensive solution to the Rohingya problem. Attending to security concerns cannot be done at the expense of humanitarian needs.

By Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia ( MERHROM) Posted in Uncategorized

Bantu pendidikan anak kami – Ketua Rohingya Malaysia

MASYARAKAT Rohingya yang hadir pada Persidangan Khas Jawatankuasa Rohingya Kebangsaan MRM di Dewan FELCRA Setapak, hari ini. – Foto Halimaton Saadiah Sulaiman

KUALA LUMPUR: Jawatankuasa Rohingya Kebangsaan, Majlis Rohingya Malaysia (MRM) yang baru ditubuhkan akan menumpukan kepada usaha pemerkasaan program jangka panjang etnik Rohingya, terutama dalam bidang pendidikan.

Ini bagi membolehkan anak-anak Rohingya di negara ini bersedia untuk kembali ke Myanmar atau ditempatkan di negara ketiga kelak.

Ketua Rohingya Malaysia, Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani yang baru dipilih mengetuai jawatankuasa itu hari ini berkata, selama ini komuniti pelarian dari Myanmar itu hanya bergantung kepada sistem pendidikan tidak formal diuruskan badan bukan kerajaan (NGO).

Zafar Ahmad, 47, yang juga Presiden Pertubuhan Hak Asasi Manusia Etnik Rohingya Myanmar Malaysia (MERHROM) berkata, sudah tiba masanya anak-anak Rohingya memasuki sistem pendidikan lebih tersusun.

“Kami lama duduk sini dan tak tahu bila boleh balik Myanmar atau pergi ke negara ketiga nanti.

“Jadi, kami minta rakyat dan kerajaan Malaysia lihat isu pendidikan untuk anak-anak Rohingya. Kami juga minta kerajaan beri kami dokumen supaya boleh bekerja secara sah di Malaysia,” katanya kepada BH dan NST di Persidangan Khas Jawatankuasa Rohingya Kebangsaan MRM di Dewan FELCRA Setapak, di sini hari ini.

Zafar Ahmad mengetuai 14 wakil Rohingya yang dipilih kira-kira 200 wakil pelarian etnik Rohingya di dalam jawatankuasa itu yang juga satu daripada lima majlis atau jawatankuasa di bawah MRM yang ditubuhkan sejak Oktober tahun lalu.

MRM adalah badan gabungan 25 NGO berkaitan Rohingya yang bertujuan memperkasakan etnik pelarian itu di Malaysia memandangkan pelarian tidak boleh menubuhkan persatuan di negara ini.

“Kami juga minta Malaysia untuk terus menerajui isu Rohingya di peringkat ASEAN, Pertubuhan Islam Antarabangsa (OIC) dan antarabangsa kerana Malaysia negara pertama yang suarakan isu pelarian Rohingya di rantau Asia,” kata Zafar Ahmad yang turut berterima kasih dengan kerajaan Malaysia diketuai Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Malaysia adalah negara pertama menghantar bantuan kemanusiaan ke Cox’s Bazar selepas krisis kemanusiaan berlaku di selatan Bangladesh September lalu akibat konflik di barat Myanmar selain turut menghantar kapal flotilla kemanusiaan ke Myanmar dan Bangladesh pada Februari 2017.

Lebih 650,000 etnik Rohingya melarikan diri dari wilayah Rakhine di barat Myanmar ke Bangladesh sejak 25 Ogos lalu akibat operasi berdarah tentera Myanmar, dengan sekurang-kurangnya 75,000 etnik Rohingya dan Muslim Myanmar mencari perlindungan di Malaysia.


By Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia ( MERHROM) Posted in Uncategorized

Rohingya bela nasib sendiri melalui Majlis Rohingya Malaysia

ORANG ramai hadir ke Persidangan Khas Jawatankuasa Rohingya Kebangsaan di Dewan FELCRA di Kuala Lumpur, sebentar tadi. – Foto Halimaton Saadiah

KUALA LUMPUR: Majlis Rohingya Malaysia (MRM) mengukir sejarah hari ini, apabila menganjurkan Persidangan Khas Jawatankuasa Rohingya Kebangsaan bagi memperkasakan nasib etnik pelarian dari barat Myanmar itu di negara ini.

Ia adalah persidangan yang julung kalinya menyaksikan etnik pelarian itu memilih wakilnya di bawah jawatankuasa khas melalui MRM, yang juga badan gabungan 25 pertubuhan bukan kerajaan (NGO) berkaitan Rohingya di negara ini.

Seramai 200 pelarian Rohingya dari seluruh Malaysia, kecuali Sabah dan Sarawak, hadir pada persidangan khas itu untuk memilih barisan Jawatankuasa Khas Rohingya MRM.

Pengerusi Majlis Penasihat Kebangsaan MRM yang juga bekas wakil khas Pertubuhan Kerjasama Islam (OIC) ke Myanmar, Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar, berkata persidangan hari ini adalah langkah pertama menyatukan komuniti Rohingya di Malaysia.

Katanya, MRM adalah wadah penyatuan NGO Malaysia berkaitan Rohingya, untuk memperkasakan golongan pelarian terbabit di Malaysia dalam aspek pembangunan sosioekonomi dengan 11 bidang perkhidmatan dikenal pasti.

“Ini adalah langkah pertama satukan (NGO) Rohingya. Kita mahukan semua pertubuhan bekerjasama untuk membantu sesama lain untuk membantu komuniti Rohingya.

“Bila bergabung, suara kita lebih mantap untuk disampaikan kepada kerajaan dan bila kita berurusan dengan NGO antarabangsa dan agensi antarabangsa, termasuk agensi PBB (Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu),” katanya selepas merasmikan Persidangan Khas Jawatankuasa Rohingya Kebangsaan MRM di Dewan FELCRA di sini sebentar tadi.

Yang turut hadir Timbalan Pengerusi Majlis Penasihat Kebangsaan MRM, Tan Sri Dr Siti Zaharah Sulaiman; Ahli Majlis Penasihat Kebangsaan MRM, Tan Sri Jeneral (B) Azumi Mohamad; Pengerusi Majlis Kehormat Kebangsaan MRM, Mohd Nazri Sahat yang juga Presiden Penggerak Malaysia dan Pengerusi Eksekutif MRM Kebangsaan, Datin Rohani Md Ariff.

MRM yang ditubuhkan pada 31 Oktober tahun lalu, mempunyai lima peringkat jawatankuasa iaitu Majlis Penaung diketuai Menteri Dalam Negeri dengan dianggotai Menteri-menteri besar dan Ketua-ketua menteri; Majlis Penasihat Kebangsaan; Majlis Kehormat; Majlis Eksekutif dan Jawatankuasa Rohingya Kebangsaan yang dianggotai wakil etnik komuniti itu.

“Kita alu-alukan kesemua NGO berkaitan Rohingya menyertai MRM. Sasaran kita adalah 100 NGO dalam Majlis Rohingya menjelang hujung tahun ini,” kata Syed Hamid yang juga bekas Menteri Luar.

Sementara itu, Nazri berkata, ini adalah kali pertama pemilihan jawatankuasa khas membabitkan wakil Rohingya di Malaysia di bawah MRM dengan tanggungjawab utama jawatankuasa dilantik adalah mengumpulkan data pelarian Rohingya di negara ini dalam tempoh enam bulan sebelum program dijalankan.

“Jawatankuasa ini penting untuk berkomunikasi dengan komuniti Rohingya di Malaysia. Mereka akan pergi dari rumah ke rumah (untuk mengumpulkan data pelarian),” kata Nazri menegaskan MRM tidak diterajui mana-mana NGO khusus.

Pertubuhan bukan kerajaan menganggarkan ada 150,000 pelarian Rohingya di negara ini dengan angka terkini Suruhanjaya PBB Mengenai Pelarian (UNHCR) Malaysia merekodkan 75,000 etnik Rohingya dan Myanmar Muslim sebagai pelarian.


By Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia ( MERHROM) Posted in Uncategorized

Krisis Rakhine, Myanmar

Krisis Rakhine, Myanmar

Tiga NGO serah memorandum kepada United Nation!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_1000/image.jpg

TIGA wakil NGO, Azmi Abdul Hamid (tengah), Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani serta Tengku Emma Zuriana Tengku Azmi menyerahkan memorandum bagi memohon United Nation (UN) mengiktiraf krisis Rakhine sebagai genosid di Pejabat UN, Wisma UN di sini hari ini.- UTUSAN

Presiden Mapim, Azmi Abdul Hamid berkata, memorandum itu diserahkan agar pihak UN mengiktiraf krisis kemanusiaan di Rakhine sebagai genosid selain memohon kewajipan untuk melindungi (R2P) sebelum etnik itu dibawa pulang.

Menurut beliau, pihaknya mewakili NGO lain sangat berterima kasih kerana UN menyambut baik dengan tujuh tuntutan yang ada dalam memorandum berkenaan.

“Antara penekanan yang terkandung dalam tuntutan tersebut meliputi jaminan keselamatan, kerakyatan etnik berkenaan dikembalikan serta memohon UN mementingkan R2P.

“UN turut memberikan tindak balas positif apabila mereka menjamin memorandum itu akan dibawa ke peringkat atas sekali iaitu akan diketengahkan ke pejabat UN di New York, “katanya.

Beliau ditemui pemberita selepas menyerahkan memorandum itu di Ibu Pejabat UN di Wisma United Nation (UN) di sini hari ini. – UTUSAN ONLINE

By Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia ( MERHROM) Posted in Uncategorized

Rohingya NGOs hope Malaysia will get Asean to discuss crisis

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia should urge other Asean nations to hold a conference to discuss the Rohingya crisis, said Rohingya non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organisation Malaysia president Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani applauded Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s commitment to fight for the rights of Rohingya refugees.

However, he said the crisis in Myanmar should not be forgotten.

“While it is commendable what Malaysia is doing for the refugees, people shouldn’t forget what we have to go through there.

“Whatever it is, Myanmar is still our home and something must be done to help us. We can’t live in refugee camps forever.”

Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organisation Malaysia president Zafar Ahmad Abdul Ghani applauded Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s commitment to fight for the rights of Rohingya refugees. NSTP file pic

Echoing the sentiment, Asean Rohingya Centre (ARC) executive director Dr Helmi Ibrahim said Malaysia should continue to push for the rights of the Rohingya.

“We hope Malaysia will continue to push Asean to hold a conference, or at least an informal dialogue, to discuss the crisis.

“Asean should take responsibility by addressing this crisis according to its charter,” he said.

On Saturday, the Prime Minister sent off the Rohingya humanitarian aid mission delegation to the Malaysian field hospital in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

“Although Rohingya has no influence on international political affairs, Malaysia’s concern for their plight is highly praised.

“The commitment of the prime minister to champion the Rohingya issue is solely for humanitarian purposes.”

Helmi said the government’s initiative to set up the Malaysian field hospital in Cox’s Bazar was admirable.

“It shows that Malaysia is among the countries to come forward in lending a helping hand to those who are going through crisis,” he said.


By Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia ( MERHROM) Posted in Uncategorized

A 13 Year old Rohingya boy Mercilessly Tortured by Myanmar Military in Northern Maungdaw

A 13 Year old Rohingya boy Mercilessly Tortured by Myanmar Military in Northern Maungdaw

RB News
February 5, 2017
Maungdaw, Arakan – A 13-year-old Rohingya boy was mercilessly tortured by Myanmar soldiers in Northern Maungdaw on Sunday.
A Rohingya boy named Hasson, son of Zubareik, from West Hamlet in Kyee Kan Pyin village tract, was fishing on Sunday, February 5th, in ponds that are owned by local Rohingya on the western side of Wa Peik hamlet. He was detained at 8:30 AM by Myanmar soldiers while he was fishing and was taken to a nearby camp based in Wa Peik hamlet.
The boy was then said to have been tortured and beaten by the soldiers while he was in custody until 4:30 PM that evening. His condition now is described as as critical by locals who reported finding him collapsed and crawling in a nearby field where he was unable to walk. Villagers said he was trying to make his way to West Hamlet by walking and crawling as his injuries caused him to lose strength and collapse repeatedly. He was carried to his home by the villagers who found him.
Due to curfew restrictions the boy was unable to receive medical treatment and remained in his home for the night. His parents remained worried whether he will survive the injuries of his beatings. His parents reported that they are concerned that even when they are able to travel to the health clinic they will not have enough money to do so.
Hasson’s family previously lived in the Middle Hamlet but were forced from the village by the order of the Border Guard Police Chief, Thura San Lwin, on October 23rd, 2016. Since this time Hasson and his family have been living with another family who allowed them to take refuge in their home in West hamlet.
Despite warnings from the United Nations Human Rights Council regarding mass killings, gang rape and a number of other atrocities, reports continue to emerge of Myanmar Security Forces committing Crimes Against Humanity.
“Myanmar government and military should be prosecuted at The International Criminal Court by The United Nations. That’s the only solution.” a village elder told RB News.
Rohingya Eye contributed in reporting.
13 year old boy Hasson

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By Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia ( MERHROM) Posted in Uncategorized

The Legend of Aung San Suu Kyi

The Legend of Aung San Suu Kyi

Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi smiles at supporters as she celebrates Thingyan, Myanmar's new year water festival, in front of her home in Yangon April 16, 2012. Myanmar celebrates the New Year Water Festival of Thingyan during the month of Tagu, which usually falls around mid-April. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun (MYANMAR - Tags: SOCIETY POLITICS)

“… or live long enough to see yourself become the villain”

 “So who is Aung San Suu Kyi … how can she travel the world to shill up investment in Myanmar while the military is carrying out a genocide?”

There has been a dramatic shift in media coverage of Aung San Suu Kyi since 2012, when she travelled to Oslo to pick up her 1991 Nobel Peace Prize as an icon of human rights of almost mythic stature. In her acceptance speech, she spoke of her Buddhist commitment to nonviolence, of solidarity with those suffering injustice, of the corrupting influence of fear in standing against repression and the power of human kindness. It was quite a performance – so stirring, that as she continued travelling in Europe and the US to pick up other human rights awards, few thought to ask her about the genocidal violence against Rohingya Muslims going on at the same time in Myanmar.

News about the apartheid conditions and squalid concentration camps in Arakan for the Rohingya displaced by the 2012 violence began to snap many out of their adulation to ask why Suu Kyi, the exemplar of human rights compassion and courage, was as silent as a block of cement about the persecution of the Rohingya. When asked about it, Suu Kyi would speak in evasive abstractions about the “rule of law” to suggest lawless rampaging among Rohingya. She more often dropped the Buddhist shtick to make clear that she rejected the notion of persecution and violence against Rohingya; she portrayed it as a communal conflict between Buddhists and Muslims with guilt on both sides and suggested strongly that the Rohingya had brought it on themselves, especially with their higher birth-rate which made Buddhists feel threatened: the classic fear-mongering of ethnic cleansing used everywhere.

Rohingya have been ruthlessly persecuted for decades stemming from British colonialism but the 2012 wave of violence against them and the refugee crisis in the Andaman Sea finally made the world notice. In May 2015, at least 25,000 Rohingya fled persecution in Myanmar on unsound boats. The world watched in disbelief and horror as thousands drowned (and no one knows how many) because no government would rescue them or allow them to land and no human rights agency has ever tried to make an accounting of those who drowned – as if their lives had no value. As evidence of genocide became more public and outrage grew, many were still asking why Suu Kyi remained silent but many more understood that her silence had the distinct malodour of collusion.

After becoming Myanmar head of state in March 2016, Suu Kyi dumped the equivocations entirely. It was more than evident the military was still running the country but with the human rights and democratic facade she cynically provided, especially through setting up phoney investigative commissions like the Kofi Annan whitewash commission. Suu Kyi has shown her hand by fronting for the 2016 offensive against Rohingya which has caused nearly 70,000 to flee to Bangladesh with gruesome reports of soldiers torching homes, extrajudicial executions, mass rapes and torture, forced disappearance, and mass incarceration. Incredulity about her silence has finally turned to a chorus of accusations of collusion with the military. Her glory days are over. It’s all downhill from here.

So who is Aung San Suu Kyi? How did such a human rights icon hit the skids from such Olympian heights to denying a genocide even acknowledged by the political lowbrows of the US Congress? A genocide denounced by Pope Francis, seven Nobel Peace Laureates, the UN, EU, human rights organisations, the Dalai Lama and prestigious university researchers? How does she think she can pull off denial in the face of irrefutable evidence and international opposition? How can she travel the world to shill up investment in Myanmar while the military is carrying out a genocide?

The truth of the matter is, “there isn’t much there-there” to Suu Kyi’s human rights credentials. Her prestige is mostly fabrications, family lineage, and knowing the right people. She had been out of the country for schooling and work since the age of 15 in 1960, first living in India with her widowed mother who was a diplomat for the military junta, then to the US for schooling and work, to England where she married and had two sons, to Bhutan where her husband tutored the feudal rulers, and then back to England.

In 1988, at the age of 43, after living away for 28 years, she incidentally returned to Myanmar to care for her ailing mother and got involved in the 8888 Uprising, not as an organiser but as a rally speaker. The 8888 Uprising was a national democracy movement against military rule involving millions from every part of the country in protests and general strikes. The uprising began in March and was ended in September 1988 when the military regained control by massacring an estimated 10,000 activists; thousands fled the country to avoid the same fate.

It requires explanation how Suu Kyi went from living an apolitical domestic life outside the country to leading a revolutionary movement in a matter of weeks without serving any political apprenticeship. Her father Aung San, a leading political figure opposing British colonialism, is considered an architect of Burmese independence, and founded the Myanmar Armed Forces. He was assassinated in 1947 when Suu Kyi was only two. That pedigree seems to be the substance of her political credentials and must be what got her placed at the centre of Burmese politics.

She was recruited to help found the National League for Democracy (NLD) in September 1988 after the 8888 Uprising was crushed. The founding officers of the NLD were former high-level generals in the military, some of whom were involved in bloody crackdowns on student demonstrators in the 1960s and 70s, and none of whom were politically progressive. This makes the NLD’s political agenda and her involvement with it questionable, to say the least. But they positioned themselves as the political opposition to military dictatorship.

“It was more than evident the military was still running the country but with the human rights and democratic facade she cynically provided, especially through setting up phoney investigative commissions like the Kofi Annan whitewash commission.”

While thousands of activists in the 8888 Uprising were forced to flee to other countries to avoid being executed, disappeared, or jailed, Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest for 15 of the next 20 years. She was a political prisoner, but her detention is hardly comparable to the gulag most dissidents faced. She lived in her family mansion on a lake in the most exclusive residential district of Yangon, attended to by servants. What convinced her to leave her husband and 13 and 17-year-old sons in England to live housebound for nearly two decades?

She received the first of her now nearly 150 awards and honorary degrees in 1990 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. For what? Outside of some speeches at 8888 movement rallies, signing on to the formation of the NLD, and running once for office, there isn’t a single recorded instance of Suu Kyi sticking her neck out for human rights. What she had, through both parents and several other relatives, was deep connections to the military. This is not to imply it was some kind of bizarre conspiracy to keep her housebound for several years so she could eventually serve as a front office for the junta. But there are some unanswered questions. And of course, her connections are what kept her alive rather than suffer the fate of thousands of other dissidents with substantial and legitimate human rights credentials who were either jailed, killed, or in exile.

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By Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia ( MERHROM) Posted in Uncategorized

Joint Letter to UNHRC Members Re: Human Rights Violations in Rakhine State

Joint Letter to UNHRC Members Re: Human Rights Violations in Rakhine State

Permanent Representatives of Member and Observer States of the United Nations Human Rights Council

Geneva, 3 March 2017

Re: UN-mandated international Commission of Inquiry or similar international mechanism to investigate serious human rights violations in Rakhine State, Myanmar.


We, the undersigned organizations, write to urge your delegations to support calls by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, for the establishment by the UN Human Rights Council during its 34th session of a Commission of Inquiry or similar international mechanism to investigate, at a minimum, alleged and apparent serious human rights violations and abuses in Rakhine State, Myanmar.

Since 9 October 2016, Myanmar’s security forces have carried out large-scale attacks against the Rohingya population in Rakhine State’s Maungdaw, Buthidaung, and Rathedaung Townships as part of ‘clearance operations’ in response to attacks on three police border posts by armed assailants. These ‘clearance operations’ violate numerous provisions of international human rights law.

The ‘clearance operations’ involved human rights violations against women, men, and children, including: extrajudicial killings; enforced disappearances; torture and other ill-treatment, notably rape and other crimes of sexual violence; arbitrary arrests and detention; forced displacement; and destruction and looting of homes, food, and other property.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) documented many such serious human rights violations in a ‘flash report’ released on 3 February 2017.[1] The report concluded that the attacks against the Rohingya population in Rakhine State during the prolonged crackdown could “very likely” amount to crimes against humanity. UN officials estimated that more than 1,000 Rohingya might have been killed in the crackdown.[2] Military and police operations resulted in the displacement of at least 97,000 Rohingya, including approximately 73,000 who fled to neighbouring Bangladesh.[3]

In June 2016, four months before the most recent attacks, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein submitted a report to the UN Human Rights Council highlighting the “possible commission of crimes against humanity” against Rohingya in Myanmar.[4]

A large number and overall patterns of human rights violations and abuses have already been well documented, while many more allegations require further investigation.

The Myanmar government’s response to these documented violations has ranged from blanket denials of any wrongdoing by security forces to numerous attempts to discredit reports of abuses by Rohingya eyewitnesses and survivors.[5] Myanmar’s security forces have direct control over operations in Rakhine State (as in other conflict areas) and are granted effective independence from the country’s civilian government and immunity from justice under the 2008 constitution. To date, no one is known to have been criminally investigated, charged, or tried for these offences. In February, three junior police officers were sentenced by an internal police tribunal to two months in police detention after a video surfaced in December showing officers kicking and beating Rohingya men in a village in Rathedaung Township. At least three senior police officers were also demoted.[6]

Since October 2016, four official commissions have been set up to investigate the situation in Rakhine State. Regrettably, all of them lack the independence, impartiality, human rights and technical expertise, and mandate necessary to conduct a credible and effective investigation:

  • On 1 December 2016, Myanmar’s President Htin Kyaw established a 13-member investigation commission led by Vice-President Myint Swe, a former army general, to probe “the truth” in relation to violent attacks that occurred on 9 October and 12-13 November 2016 in Maungdaw Township.[7] Its members include the current Chief of Police and a number of former government officials. The commission’s preliminary findings, published on 3 January 2017, dismissed claims of misconduct by Myanmar security forces, having found insufficient evidence to take legal action in response to alleged violations, religious persecution, and allegations of genocide.[8] As the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng noted on 6 February, this commission “is not a credible option” to investigate abuses against Rohingya.[9]
  • Two commissions, formed by the army and the Ministry of Home Affairs (also controlled by the military) on 9 February and 11 February 2017 respectively, have been tasked with investigating human rights violations committed by military and police personnel during the ‘clearance operations’.[10] These commissions, made up of military and police officers, lack the independence and impartiality necessary to investigate violations committed by security forces.
  • An 11-member commission appointed by the Rakhine State Parliament on 24 October 2016, composed predominantly of ethnic Rakhine members from the Arakan National Party (ANP), was tasked with investigating the 9 October attacks on the three police border post but excluded any probe into human rights violations against the Rohingya population.[11] The commission’s chairman, ANP MP Aung Win, claimed in an interview with the BBC that rape of Rohingya women could not have occurred because they are “very dirty” and “they are not attractive so neither the local Buddhist men or the soldiers are interested in them.”[12]

An advisory commission was also established by Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi on 24 August 2016. The commission consists of nine members, including three international experts with former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan as its chair. However, its mandate is limited to making general recommendations to the government to “resolve protracted issues” in Rakhine State and both Annan and the Myanmar government have affirmed the commission will not investigate reports of human rights violations.[13]

Finally, another earlier commission, set up by then-President Thein Sein in August 2012 to investigate unrest in Rakhine State, failed to lead to accountability for human rights violations committed during successive waves of violence between June and October 2012. Approximately 140,000 people, predominantly Rohingya, were internally displaced and at least 200 were killed during the unrest.

Given the inability or unwillingness of these commissions to establish facts and hold perpetrators accountable, and the fact that national judicial and law enforcement authorities lack the both the independence and technical capacity to deal with such situations, we see no credible or effective alternative to a Commission of Inquiry, or similar international mechanism, to address and begin the process of effectively finding and verifying the truth of what has happened, and ensuring justice and accountability for human rights violations and abuses committed. At its March 2017 session, the Human Rights Council should adopt a resolution establishing such an international independent investigation tasked with determining facts, identifying causes and alleged perpetrators, and making recommendations for next steps, including appropriate remedies for the victims.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein and the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar Yanghee Lee both recently recommended the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry into the situation in Rakhine State.[14] The signatories to this letter support this recommendation.

We strongly believe that at such a critical juncture in Myanmar’s history, the establishment of a UN-mandated international Commission of Inquiry or similar international mechanism is a minimum requirement for ensuring justice and accountability, and can also significantly contribute to preventing further atrocities being committed against Rohingya and other minorities at risk in Myanmar. The commission’s findings will play a crucial role in assisting the Myanmar government in promoting accountability for grave crimes committed by its security forces.

Please accept, Excellencies, the assurance of our highest consideration.

Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN-Burma)

Amnesty International

ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

Burma Campaign UK

Christian Solidarity Worldwide

FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights

Fortify Rights

Human Rights Watch

International Campaign for the Rohingya

International Commission of Jurists


Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

[1] UNOHCHR, Report of OHCHR mission to Bangladesh, Interviews with Rohingyas fleeing from Myanmar since 9 October 2016, 3 February 2017,

[2] Reuters, More than 1,000 feared killed in Myanmar army crackdown on Rohingya – U.N. officials, 8 February 2017.

[3] UNOCHA, Asia and the Pacific: Weekly Regional Humanitarian Snapshot (14 – 20 February 2017), 20 February 2017,…

[4] UN Human Rights Council, 32nd session, Situation of human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar, Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 28 June 2016, UN Doc. A/HRC/32/18.

[5] State Counsellor Office, Information committee refutes rumours of rape, 26 December 2016; President’s Office, Fabricated stories, misleading pictures about Rakhine cause global criticism, 2 January 2017; Reuters, Aung San Suu Kyi criticised as Myanmar denies army killed Rohingya Muslims fleeing Rakhine, 19 November 2016; Reuters, Myanmar ‘in denial’ over Rohingya crimes, 7 February 2017.

[6] Agence France-Presse, Police in Rohingya abuse video get reprimand, ‘didn’t intend to harm’, 8 February 2017.

[7] State Counsellor Office, Formation of Investigation Commission, 2 December 2016.

[8] Global New Light of Myanmar, Interim Report of the Investigation Commission on Maungtaw, 3 January 2017.

[9] UN News Centre, Violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state could amount to crimes against humanity – UN special adviser, 6 February 2017.

[10] Global New Light of Myanmar, Tatmadaw releases reaction to OHCHR Report, 10 February 2017; Global New Light of Myanmar, Ministry of Home Affairs issues press release, 12 February 2017.

[11] Irrawaddy, Arakan State Parliament Forms Commission to Investigate Maungdaw Attacks, 26 October 2016

[12] BBC, Muslim civilians ‘killed by Burmese army’, 7 November 2016, available at:

[13] Irrawaddy, Kofi Annan: Commission Will Not Do ‘Human Rights Investigation’ in Arakan State, 8 September 2016; President’s Office, Kofi Annan calls for cooperation among neighbouring countries to address Rakhine issue, 8 September 2016.

[14] IRIN, UN rights envoy urges inquiry into abuses of Rohingya in Myanmar, 9 February 2017; UNOHCHR, Myanmar: UN #HumanRights Chief says there must be commission of inquiry on violations in northern #Rakhine, possibly referral to #ICC, 7 February 2017,

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By Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia ( MERHROM) Posted in Uncategorized

Dalai Lama, Pope Francis speak out on behalf of Myanmar’s Rohingya

Dalai Lama, Pope Francis speak out on behalf of Myanmar’s Rohingya

The Dalai Lama has joined Pope Francis in calling for Myanmar Buddhists to end violence against Rohingya Muslims in what the United Nations says amounts to ethnic cleansing and possibly crimes against humanity.

The Tibetan Buddhist leader revealed he has privately communicated with Myanmar’s de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi “to use her influence to bring about a peaceful resolution to this problem”.

The Dalai Lama made the appeal in written comments that will be read at the first hearing of the Permanent People’s Tribunal on Myanmar at London’s Queen Mary University on March 6 and 7.

“All the world’s major religions convey a message of peace and compassion, so it is especially saddening when we hear of violence being used in the name of religion like the very unfortunate events concerning the Muslim community in Burma [Myanmar],” he wrote, referring to the plight of more than 1 million Rohingya living in Rakhine state on Myanmar’s western coast.

Myanmar is a Buddhist majority nation.

In February, Pope Francis issued a stinging rebuke of Myanmar following a United Nations report detailing atrocities against Rohingya that included mass rapes, murders, beatings and families locked in houses and burnt alive.

Among the atrocities was the slitting of a baby’s throat while his mother was being gang raped.

The Rome-based Permanent People’s Tribunal has convened 43 times to deliver judgments on societies facing state-sponsored crimes.

The tribunal on Myanmar, which is expected to sit in London, New York and Kuala Lumpur, was established in response to requests made from Rohingya and Kachin, both ethnic minorities which claim they have suffered crimes at the hands of Myanmar government troops.

Public figures will sit on the tribunal that will hear testimonies from victims and genocide scholars before reaching a verdict later this year.

Ms Suu Kyi, who was kept under house arrest for 15 years for standing up to Myanmar’s military, appears now to hold little sway over powerful generals, despite leading her National League for Democracy to a landslide victory at historic elections in late 2015.

The military has denied any atrocities have taken place while Ms Suu Kyi’s government has accused the media of publishing fake news about the plight of Rohingya, despite the displacement of 90,000 from their homes since October, when attacks on police border posts prompted a brutal military crackdown.

Almost 70,000 fled across the border to camps in Bangladesh.

A group called the Harakah al-Yaqin or Faith Movement, which has links to Rohingya living in Saudia Arabia, claimed responsibility for the attacks, sparking fears of a new wave of terrorism in the region.

The story Dalai Lama, Pope Francis speak out on behalf of Myanmar’s Rohingya first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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By Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia ( MERHROM) Posted in Uncategorized

Myanmar army ‘systematically’ abused Rohingya Muslims: report

Myanmar army ‘systematically’ abused Rohingya Muslims: report

28th Feb 2017

Myanmar army ‘systematically’ abused Rohingya Muslims: report

By Kyaw Ye Lynn

YANGON, Myanmar (AA): Myanmar’s military committed “systematic” abuses against Rohingya Muslims during recent operations in troubled Rakhine State, according to a report released Monday.

The rape of more than 70 Rohingya women and girls by Myanmar security forces was witnessed since early October, according to the report based on interviews with 21 Rohingya women who fled from the Maungdaw area to neighboring Bangladesh.

Almost all the women interviewed lost their husbands, and half of them their children, in acts of appalling cruelty, reported the Kaladan Press Network, an independent non-profit Rohingya news agency based in Bangladesh.

The government has said at least 106 people have been killed in a security operation launched after fatal attacks on police outposts Oct. 9 near the border.

However, Rohingya advocacy groups claim around 400 Rohingya — described by the United Nations as among the most persecuted groups worldwide — were killed, women raped and Rohingya villages torched.

“Of the 21 women interviewed, 15 women, from eight villages, had either personally experienced or witnessed sexual violence,” said Monday’s report, “Witness to Horror” by Kaladan Press Network, providing horrifying details of atrocities by Myanmar soldiers and police.

“At least 70 women and girls were seen either being raped, being taken away to be raped, or found after being raped by groups of soldiers and militia.”

It added that such incidents mostly occurred when the women were gathered at gunpoint in large groups outside their villages.

The report underlined that similarities in the women’s testimony show a clear pattern of abuses against civilians on a widespread scale, providing “strong evidence that the abuses are being committed systematically, with full command responsibility”.

It exposes official cover-up of the atrocities, reporting that villagers were rounded up by troops and forced to testify in front of video cameras that it was alleged Rohingya militants who had committed abuses against them.

“The Myanmar authorities are hiding the truth at every level,” Razia Sultana, a Rohingya lawyer who conducted interviews for the report, said in a press release.

“The Myanmar government must stop denying the atrocities, and hold their military to account.”

Of the interviewed women, 13 recounted violence against their children — including a 1-year-old boy whose throat was slit, a 1-year-old girl who was thrown into a burning building and several boys who have gone missing.

Myanmar’s government has previously denied such allegations against soldiers and police, but launched an investigation after the UN published a report earlier this month stating that rights violations against Rohingya civilians could amount to crimes against humanity.

Following growing local and international pressure, Myanmar announced Feb. 15 the end of military operations in the area, but a military spokesman later said clearance operations had yet to be halted.

“There will be regular security operations. Ceasing military operations [in the area] is information I am not aware of,” Gen. Aung Ye Win told the Irrawaddy online magazine on Feb 16.

Full report available here

[Photo: Hasina Begum (20), one of the women who were raped by Myanmar armed forces members, takes shelter at Leda unregistered Rohingya camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh on February 20, 2017. Photographer: Muhabiri Zakir Hossain Chowdhury/AA]

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By Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia ( MERHROM) Posted in Uncategorized

Myanmar Says Ex-Army Officer Ordered Prominent Lawyer’s Murder

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — A former military officer in Myanmar is suspected of ordering the killing of a prominent human rights lawyer who was a top adviser to the country’s leader, the office of Myanmar’s civilian president announced on Wednesday.

The lawyer, U Ko Ni, one of the most prominent Muslims in the majority Buddhist country, was fatally shot at Yangon International Airport on Jan. 29 in what appears to have been a rare political assassination in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.

When he was killed, Mr. Ko Ni, who was 65, was returning to Yangon, Myanmar, from a trip to Indonesia. He had been cradling his young grandson in his arms when he was shot in the head.

In a statement released Wednesday evening, the president’s office said that Aung Win Khine, 45, a retired lieutenant colonel, was suspected of paying 100 million kyat, or about $71,500, to the person who killed Mr. Ko Ni.

The president’s office said Colonel Aung Win Khine, who retired from the army in 2014, was at large and published his photograph with a request for people to share information on his whereabouts.


Mr. Ko Ni was rewriting Myanmar’s Constitution, which would have removed much of the military’s power, when he was killed. CreditReuters

Mr. Ko Ni had been well known within Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party, the National League for Democracy, for his efforts to amend the Constitution and write a new one. Before being killed, he had been drafting a Constitution that would have stripped the military of its powers and would have established peace agreements with armed ethnic groups.

“If the military still focuses on protecting its interests, it will be impossible to change any part of the Constitution within Parliament,” he said last year during an interview with a Burmese newspaper. “That’s why writing a new one is the best way to pursue a democratic Constitution.”

At least two suspects related to the killing are already in custody: U Kyi Lin, accused of shooting Mr. Ko Ni, and U Aung Win Zaw, 46, the elder brother of Colonel Aung Win Khine.

Mr. Aung Win Zaw is also a former lieutenant with the Myanmar army, but the president’s office did not mention that at the time of his arrest, leading to accusations that it was withholding information.

“All people know here suspect Aung Win Zaw is an ex-army officer,” said U Sai Tun Aung Lwin, a journalist based in Yangon. “The government and the government agencies must be transparent on the political assassination. If not, people won’t know which information is true.”

The political party led by Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi took power in March 2016, but it shares executive and legislative power with the military. Under the current Constitution, the military controls the ministries of defense, home affairs and border affairs as well as at least 25 percent of parliamentary seats. Her party’s relationship with the military has been rocky since last fall.

“I strongly believe that those who are pro-2008 Constitution killed him,” U Aung Moe Zaw, chairman of a political party, the Democratic Party for New Society, said on Wednesday, referring to the current Constitution. “At the same time, their intention is to threaten all of us and to create instability.”

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By Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization Malaysia ( MERHROM) Posted in Uncategorized